modern thrifter

modern thrifter

Thrifter & designer. Blogging about life in our MCM home & living on a budget. I also design things with my husband. You can see our work at The Mahoney Studio

[ HEARTACHE ]
Sometimes a great find comes down to a matter of minutes. This morning I missed out on this set of six vintage scandi spindle chairs by about five minutes. Making it even more painful, I saw that they were priced at $5.99 each. I begged the Goodwill employee to let me take a picture of them before he hauled them to the loading dock. 
Like a rebound after a breakup, I desperately wandered around the store looking for something to buy. Thankfully, I came to my senses and left empty-handed. 
Sometimes the thrifting hobby is brutal.

[ HEARTACHE ]

Sometimes a great find comes down to a matter of minutes. This morning I missed out on this set of six vintage scandi spindle chairs by about five minutes. Making it even more painful, I saw that they were priced at $5.99 each. I begged the Goodwill employee to let me take a picture of them before he hauled them to the loading dock. 

Like a rebound after a breakup, I desperately wandered around the store looking for something to buy. Thankfully, I came to my senses and left empty-handed. 

Sometimes the thrifting hobby is brutal.

Comments

[ RETREAT ]

As a very visual thinker, I’ve learned over the years—and especially since having kids—that I function far better if I have one area in my house that I can count on to be clean. No matter how loud, messy, and wild the rest of the house gets during the day, having my little spot keeps me from totally freaking out. 

Those of you with kids in school are probably familiar with the hurricane that rips through the house each morning, and making my bed has long been the first chore in the morning clean-up ritual. Even though I keep my bedroom really tidy (ahem…don’t look in the closets), I still felt like I needed a better place to retreat.

We had a chair and a nightstand sitting on the wall opposite of our bed, but I had been looking for a small desk for nearly a year. A few weeks ago I saw a craigslist ad for a $10 vintage desk, and even though it’s not my ideal piece of furniture, I couldn’t argue with the price. It is about 2” too wide for the space between the doors to our bathroom and closet, but it’s solid wood, so I’m going to have Patrick cut it down to fit.

I wish I could say it was teak or rosewood, or something sexy like that, unfortunately I think it’s a homemade project, crafted from much cheaper wood. But, I’ll say it again: $10. And it functions just like I need it to. Plus, it’s amazing what a few pretty accessories can add!

I picked up the brass Tensor desk lamp over a year ago at a garage sale for $3, and I’m so happy that it finally has a place. You might have seen the planter on Facebook a couple of weeks ago. I picked it up at the thrift store run by the local senior center for $1. 

I’m not much for houseplants, mostly because we get no sunlight and they always die, but I’ve heard these snake plants (aka mother-in-law tongue plants) are easy to grow. The kids obviously need a pet because when I brought it home they were arguing over who would get to dust its leaves and who would water it. 

We’re still planning to paint this wall black and do something different with the flooring. I get excited thinking about how that’s going to look, but right now we’re in the middle of some minor kitchen projects, so it will have to wait. 

Comments

[ GEORGE NELSON EXHIBIT ]

There are still a few days left to catch the George Nelson exhibit at the Bellevue Arts Museum (it ends this Sunday). We took the kids last friday for the free admission night, and I’m so glad we went. Though we would have been able to spend more time taking in the amazing furniture and architecture without the kids, it’s always nice to see how much they actually enjoy art museums.

Alden was particularly fascinated with the show, and couldn’t wait to get home to sketch some of the clocks that he’d seen. The next day he asked to get out some toothpicks and marshmallows, inspired by Nelson’s Marshmallow Couch, so that he could construct his own furniture.

Alden’s creation:

Clearly he’s more concerned with form than function—ouch!

Comments
[ MR. CHAIR ]
This chair, the Mr. Chair by George Mulhauser for Plycraft, has owned the top spot in the chair category on my “maybe someday” list, for quite some time. Look at those arms and tell me you don’t want one, too. 
Imagine my surprise when I received a text one evening last week from a friend who had just stumbled upon one at the Goodwill near my house. Here’s the photo that she sent me:

Granted, this wasn’t the gorgeous black leather that I’d been swooning over, but I was willing to compromise. The chair was in the collectables section and priced at $299—not cheap, but far less than we’d pay at a mid century shop. 
My friend had warned us that the upholstery and wood were in very rough shape, but we were optimistic, and headed over right away. After examining the chair, we knew that we could restore the wood, but the upholstery was a different story. It was dirty, badly faded in spots, and it made a weird crunchy plastic sound when it was compressed. It was obvious, there was no saving the fabric. And with all of those tufts and buttons, it wasn’t a project we felt even remotely skilled enough to complete.
If we could have paid to have the upholstery done professionally, I think we would have brought it home, but there was just no way to live with it the way it was until we could save up to have the work done. 
So, Mr. Chair, I do hope we meet again under better circumstances. 

[ MR. CHAIR ]

This chair, the Mr. Chair by George Mulhauser for Plycraft, has owned the top spot in the chair category on my “maybe someday” list, for quite some time. Look at those arms and tell me you don’t want one, too. 

Imagine my surprise when I received a text one evening last week from a friend who had just stumbled upon one at the Goodwill near my house. Here’s the photo that she sent me:

Granted, this wasn’t the gorgeous black leather that I’d been swooning over, but I was willing to compromise. The chair was in the collectables section and priced at $299—not cheap, but far less than we’d pay at a mid century shop. 

My friend had warned us that the upholstery and wood were in very rough shape, but we were optimistic, and headed over right away. After examining the chair, we knew that we could restore the wood, but the upholstery was a different story. It was dirty, badly faded in spots, and it made a weird crunchy plastic sound when it was compressed. It was obvious, there was no saving the fabric. And with all of those tufts and buttons, it wasn’t a project we felt even remotely skilled enough to complete.

If we could have paid to have the upholstery done professionally, I think we would have brought it home, but there was just no way to live with it the way it was until we could save up to have the work done. 

So, Mr. Chair, I do hope we meet again under better circumstances. 

Comments
[ CHAIRS! ]
I was just lamenting to a friend last week that it was going to take forever to save up for chairs, and our prospects for finding a set of eight matching used/cheap ones that we liked was grim. Two days later, a listing popped up on Craigslist for these wooden school chairs. The school we bought them from had 42 chairs available and were selling them for $2 each. After tweeting about my great find, a couple of friends went an nabbed nearly all of the rest of them.
These aren’t my dream chairs. But for what we can afford, I know my dream chairs are just that… a dream. These chairs are sturdy, simple, in great shape, and best of all, only set us back $16. I can’t ask for much more than that.
I would have taken better pictures of them, but they didn’t stay in the dining room for long. We started our floor project this weekend, so now all of the living and dining room furniture is stashed in every nook and cranny of the house. The floors are looking great so far, though, and I can’t wait to share pictures of it all when it’s done. Make sure to “like” the Modern Thrifter Facebook page or follow me on twitter if you want to see in-progress painting pictures.

[ CHAIRS! ]

I was just lamenting to a friend last week that it was going to take forever to save up for chairs, and our prospects for finding a set of eight matching used/cheap ones that we liked was grim. Two days later, a listing popped up on Craigslist for these wooden school chairs. The school we bought them from had 42 chairs available and were selling them for $2 each. After tweeting about my great find, a couple of friends went an nabbed nearly all of the rest of them.

These aren’t my dream chairs. But for what we can afford, I know my dream chairs are just that… a dream. These chairs are sturdy, simple, in great shape, and best of all, only set us back $16. I can’t ask for much more than that.

I would have taken better pictures of them, but they didn’t stay in the dining room for long. We started our floor project this weekend, so now all of the living and dining room furniture is stashed in every nook and cranny of the house. The floors are looking great so far, though, and I can’t wait to share pictures of it all when it’s done. Make sure to “like” the Modern Thrifter Facebook page or follow me on twitter if you want to see in-progress painting pictures.

Comments
[ WEEKEND REARRANGE: KIDS’ ROOMS ]
It wasn’t just the living room that got a little shuffled over the weekend. We decided to tackle a few things in both of the kids’ rooms, too. Their beds are actually stackable bunk beds, and we’ve been wanting to use them in Alden’s room as a loft bed, to make a little extra floor space. In order to do that, we’ve been searching for a new bed for Tula. The perfect one popped up on Craigslist so we seized the opportunity.

Tula now has the nicest bed in the family—a dark gray metal canopy bed from West Elm. I’m planning to make some sheer white curtains for the sides, and she’s really excited about the idea. With the tall canopy, we needed to move the bed away from the window, which seems much safer anyway.
Alden’s room isn’t really anything fancy. Mostly it’s his little domain where he stores [hoards] his buckets of cars, piles of drawings, and collections of plastic bugs. He’s always starting new “collections” and it’s really all I can do to keep it sort of organized in bins. His idea of decorating is lining up all of his Lego creations along his dresser right in front of the collage made from sticks and leaves, and I’m [mostly] fine with that. Since we created a little extra floor space for him, we were able to fit a small setup of Patrick’s old drums in the corner.

The rules? Drumming between breakfast and dinner only. I hope the neighbors don’t mind.
You can find more pictures of Tula’s Room (before the new bed) here, and a few of Alden’s room here.

[ WEEKEND REARRANGE: KIDS’ ROOMS ]

It wasn’t just the living room that got a little shuffled over the weekend. We decided to tackle a few things in both of the kids’ rooms, too. Their beds are actually stackable bunk beds, and we’ve been wanting to use them in Alden’s room as a loft bed, to make a little extra floor space. In order to do that, we’ve been searching for a new bed for Tula. The perfect one popped up on Craigslist so we seized the opportunity.

Tula now has the nicest bed in the family—a dark gray metal canopy bed from West Elm. I’m planning to make some sheer white curtains for the sides, and she’s really excited about the idea. With the tall canopy, we needed to move the bed away from the window, which seems much safer anyway.

Alden’s room isn’t really anything fancy. Mostly it’s his little domain where he stores [hoards] his buckets of cars, piles of drawings, and collections of plastic bugs. He’s always starting new “collections” and it’s really all I can do to keep it sort of organized in bins. His idea of decorating is lining up all of his Lego creations along his dresser right in front of the collage made from sticks and leaves, and I’m [mostly] fine with that. Since we created a little extra floor space for him, we were able to fit a small setup of Patrick’s old drums in the corner.

The rules? Drumming between breakfast and dinner only. I hope the neighbors don’t mind.

You can find more pictures of Tula’s Room (before the new bed) here, and a few of Alden’s room here.

Comments
[ WEEKEND REARRANGE ]
It usually happens a few times a year—Patrick and I take a weekend and rearrange at least one or two rooms in the house. Last weekend was our late spring session, spurred on by a couple of garage sale chairs (not pictured) that turned out to be a regrettable purchase. The chairs now find themselves in the “soon to be listed on Craigslist” category, and we ended up finding a great new layout for the living room (hooray for silver linings).

The new living room arrangement feels much more cozy, and the lounge chair looks infinitely better tucked into the corner of the room instead of floating in the middle. In case you’re new here, or you’ve forgotten, here and here is what the room used to look like. The other big change is that the big window now seems like to focal point in the room, instead of the wood panels on the wall.
Again, I’m sorry for the less than ideal photos. The lighting was bad, and I was using my iPhone because it has a wider angle lens. Hopefully, after we paint the floors, I’ll spend some time taking some decent pictures of the whole main floor. Until then, well, you get the gist.

[ WEEKEND REARRANGE ]

It usually happens a few times a year—Patrick and I take a weekend and rearrange at least one or two rooms in the house. Last weekend was our late spring session, spurred on by a couple of garage sale chairs (not pictured) that turned out to be a regrettable purchase. The chairs now find themselves in the “soon to be listed on Craigslist” category, and we ended up finding a great new layout for the living room (hooray for silver linings).

The new living room arrangement feels much more cozy, and the lounge chair looks infinitely better tucked into the corner of the room instead of floating in the middle. In case you’re new here, or you’ve forgotten, here and here is what the room used to look like. The other big change is that the big window now seems like to focal point in the room, instead of the wood panels on the wall.

Again, I’m sorry for the less than ideal photos. The lighting was bad, and I was using my iPhone because it has a wider angle lens. Hopefully, after we paint the floors, I’ll spend some time taking some decent pictures of the whole main floor. Until then, well, you get the gist.

Comments
[ NEW TABLE:  AFTER ]
The Brasilia table and chairs are gone, and we now have room to set up our new danish table with its leaves extended, allowing us to have seating for up to ten people. The table is a little too close to the walls on the ends to keep ten chairs out all of the time, so we will likely only keep eight chairs out, setting up two extras when we need them.
The chairs in the photo were picked up last year on a 50% off day at Goodwill. I think they ended up costing us $4 each. They aren’t what I’d like to have permanently, but the price was right, and the style works well enough for now. 
We were able to get nearly $400 for our Brasilia set on Craigslist, and we plan to put that money towards new chairs. It would be great if we could just order eight new chairs right now, but the thought of dropping $800–$2000 on chairs makes me a little queasy.
I had always planned to someday buy the beautifully designed Orbit chairs from CB2. Unfortunately, they are a few inches too wide to fit two chairs in the middle section of the table. Here are a couple of other chair styles that we think would look nice in our place:

Clockwise from top left: Fiberglass shell chair w/ Eiffel base from Modernica; Real Good Chair from Blu Dot; Pony chair from CB2; Wire chair w/ Eiffel base from Modernica; Academy chair from CB2.
Since buying all the chairs new doesn’t seem realistic, we’ll be routinely checking the the thrift stores and scouring sites like Lushpad, Craigslist, Ebay, and the UW Surplus Store, in hopes that just the right chairs pop up. I think the most difficult part about buying them secondhand will be finding eight matching chairs. 
Hopefully, some day our dining room will look a little like these:


via ffffound

via ffffound
Note the white floors. We are only a few weeks away from starting our own painted white floor project, and I can’t wait to see how it transforms our space!

[ NEW TABLE:  AFTER ]

The Brasilia table and chairs are gone, and we now have room to set up our new danish table with its leaves extended, allowing us to have seating for up to ten people. The table is a little too close to the walls on the ends to keep ten chairs out all of the time, so we will likely only keep eight chairs out, setting up two extras when we need them.

The chairs in the photo were picked up last year on a 50% off day at Goodwill. I think they ended up costing us $4 each. They aren’t what I’d like to have permanently, but the price was right, and the style works well enough for now. 

We were able to get nearly $400 for our Brasilia set on Craigslist, and we plan to put that money towards new chairs. It would be great if we could just order eight new chairs right now, but the thought of dropping $800–$2000 on chairs makes me a little queasy.

I had always planned to someday buy the beautifully designed Orbit chairs from CB2. Unfortunately, they are a few inches too wide to fit two chairs in the middle section of the table. Here are a couple of other chair styles that we think would look nice in our place:

image

Clockwise from top left: Fiberglass shell chair w/ Eiffel base from Modernica; Real Good Chair from Blu Dot; Pony chair from CB2; Wire chair w/ Eiffel base from Modernica; Academy chair from CB2.

Since buying all the chairs new doesn’t seem realistic, we’ll be routinely checking the the thrift stores and scouring sites like Lushpad, Craigslist, Ebay, and the UW Surplus Store, in hopes that just the right chairs pop up. I think the most difficult part about buying them secondhand will be finding eight matching chairs.

Hopefully, some day our dining room will look a little like these:

image

via ffffound

image

via ffffound

Note the white floors. We are only a few weeks away from starting our own painted white floor project, and I can’t wait to see how it transforms our space!

Comments
[ THE NEW TABLE: BEFORE ]
Here are a few sneak peeks at our new table. It was a Craiglist find, originally listed for $75 at a consignment shop. I sent Patrick out to pick it up, and he called me from the store to tell me that he thought we should pass on it. It really was in bad shape—so wobbly you’d get seasick eating on it, scratched and dinged, but the worst part was a strange color, mismatched finish that had been applied to the middle section. It’s hard to see it in the picture, but the color was really strange. It had a strange purplish pink hue.
I guess I’m an optimist when it comes to thrifty finds, because I asked him if he thought it would be worth another look by me the next day. I had seen two other tables on Craigslist that were nearly identical in design (but presumably better condition) ranging from $400-$700, so that probably added a little motivation. I ended up offering $60, and we took it home later that day.
After tightening every screw and bolt, our first step was to tackle some of the cracked and lifted veneer. I did a little research and came up with this method, which worked surprisingly well:

1. lay a sheet of wax paper over the damaged area, with a similar-sized piece of chipboard on top of that.
2. Apply firm pressure with a hot iron for a minute or two
3. Add weight to the top of the cardboard (we added a book underneath to distribute the weight more evenly) and let it sit for 24 hours.
note to my trainer: I promise I use my kettlebell at home for working out, but it is pretty handy for home repairs, too!
Next came a lot of sanding with a super fine sandpaper. Since the top is veneer, I had to be extra careful. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get that strange purple-brown color off of the main section of the table top and legs, but I was hopeful. I followed The Brick House's instructions for restoring vintage wood, which you can find here. So without going into too much detail, the rest of the process went like this: a good wash with wood soap, teak oil, more teak oil, and then feed-n-wax.
I was super pleased with the results (especially for $60) and I can’t wait to share how the table looks in the dining room.

[ THE NEW TABLE: BEFORE ]

Here are a few sneak peeks at our new table. It was a Craiglist find, originally listed for $75 at a consignment shop. I sent Patrick out to pick it up, and he called me from the store to tell me that he thought we should pass on it. It really was in bad shape—so wobbly you’d get seasick eating on it, scratched and dinged, but the worst part was a strange color, mismatched finish that had been applied to the middle section. It’s hard to see it in the picture, but the color was really strange. It had a strange purplish pink hue.

I guess I’m an optimist when it comes to thrifty finds, because I asked him if he thought it would be worth another look by me the next day. I had seen two other tables on Craigslist that were nearly identical in design (but presumably better condition) ranging from $400-$700, so that probably added a little motivation. I ended up offering $60, and we took it home later that day.

After tightening every screw and bolt, our first step was to tackle some of the cracked and lifted veneer. I did a little research and came up with this method, which worked surprisingly well:

1. lay a sheet of wax paper over the damaged area, with a similar-sized piece of chipboard on top of that.

2. Apply firm pressure with a hot iron for a minute or two

3. Add weight to the top of the cardboard (we added a book underneath to distribute the weight more evenly) and let it sit for 24 hours.

note to my trainer: I promise I use my kettlebell at home for working out, but it is pretty handy for home repairs, too!

Next came a lot of sanding with a super fine sandpaper. Since the top is veneer, I had to be extra careful. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get that strange purple-brown color off of the main section of the table top and legs, but I was hopeful. I followed The Brick House's instructions for restoring vintage wood, which you can find here. So without going into too much detail, the rest of the process went like this: a good wash with wood soap, teak oil, more teak oil, and then feed-n-wax.

I was super pleased with the results (especially for $60) and I can’t wait to share how the table looks in the dining room.

Comments
[ COFFEE TABLE HACK ]
With the addition of the new kid’s desk (which I promise to show one of these days), the play room needed a shuffle. The kid’s table was about to get the boot, and I was moments away from giving it away, when the idea popped into my head to hack it into a coffee table. Patrick liked the idea, too. Without hesitation, he busted out his circular saw and chopped about 8” off of the legs.
I had been keeping my eye out for a cheap coffee table for the family room to replace the mid century Mersman one that had been relegated down there from the living room after we acquired this one. So, it was nice to repurpose something that we already owned. I like that it is more current, balancing out the mid century sofa. The crayon bowl also incorporates more of the kid theme onto this side of the room, which previously had looked a bit too serious.
Because it rains so much of the year here, and because we don’t have a  big yard, we’re looking to incorporate more active play options inside. Now that the table is out of the middle of the play side of the family room, we’ve been discussing all sorts of other fun additions in the empty space… climbing wall, reading loft (which of course would more likely be a fort), indoor swing, hammock… who knows!

[ COFFEE TABLE HACK ]

With the addition of the new kid’s desk (which I promise to show one of these days), the play room needed a shuffle. The kid’s table was about to get the boot, and I was moments away from giving it away, when the idea popped into my head to hack it into a coffee table. Patrick liked the idea, too. Without hesitation, he busted out his circular saw and chopped about 8” off of the legs.

I had been keeping my eye out for a cheap coffee table for the family room to replace the mid century Mersman one that had been relegated down there from the living room after we acquired this one. So, it was nice to repurpose something that we already owned. I like that it is more current, balancing out the mid century sofa. The crayon bowl also incorporates more of the kid theme onto this side of the room, which previously had looked a bit too serious.

Because it rains so much of the year here, and because we don’t have a big yard, we’re looking to incorporate more active play options inside. Now that the table is out of the middle of the play side of the family room, we’ve been discussing all sorts of other fun additions in the empty space… climbing wall, reading loft (which of course would more likely be a fort), indoor swing, hammock… who knows!

Comments